National D-Day Memorial salutes veterans’ sacrifice

(NEXSTAR) – As the 80th anniversary approaches, those at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia are steadfast in their mission: to educate younger generations about what happened on that terrible day and to honor those fought on those beaches.

President and CEO of the National D-Day Memorial April Cheek-Messier describes the experience for visitors with awe. “You stand there, and you wonder how any of them made it. How did anyone survive?” she said.

The creation of the memorial was the personal mission of Bob Slaughter, a D-Day Veteran and native of Roanoke, Virginia. He wanted to make sure that the country and the world would know D-Day.

The monument is privately funded but in 1996, President Bill Clinton signed legislation, designating the site as the nation’s D-Day memorial.

“When we think about ‘Homefront America’, you think about a place like Bedford,” Cheek-Messier explained. The town of fewer than 7,000 is one of countless American towns that, despite their size, supported the liberation effort with all their might.

Cheek-Messier said of the monument’s scene depicting the Normandy landing, “it’s a place where you can really reflect on that sacrifice. That’s something that we should never, ever forget.”

“This was a generation that preserved freedom for the next generation and the generations that followed,” she concluded.

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